A hard offseason for the Yankees just got harder Sunday when outfielder Curtis Granderson, who has led the team in home runs each of the past two seasons (43 last year, 41 in 2011) suffered a fractured right forearm and will be out 10 weeks.
Granderson, whom the Yankees were experimenting in left field, was hit in the forearm by a fastball from Blue Jays’ starter J.A. Happ in the first inning Sunday and left the game immediately.
“My body was feeling good, my arm was feeling good, ready to go,” Granderson said, according to a report on the team’s website. “Five pitches in, we’ve got a little setback. It could be worse, but now we rest, recover, get it back and get ready to play whenever that day comes.”
That day is anticipated to be sometime in early May.
For the Yankees, Granderson’s injury will surely expose how thin the Yankees have gotten now that their free-spending days are behind them. The team really only had three proven outfielders on their roster with Granderson, Gardner, and Ichiro.
This offseason the team has seen the departure of fellow outfielders Nick Swisher (Cleveland) and Andruw Jones (Japan) who signed elsewhere. Even playoff hero Raul Ibanez is gone (Seattle) and yet the Yankees have uncharacteristically not signed a big-name fourth outfielder to join the mix.
“We’ll have to sit down and figure out what we’re going to do,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Grandy is not a bat that you easily replace, but we’re going to have to find a way.”
Girardi has had to do a lot of figuring out lately. Last season the team dealt with the unexpected season-ending injury to the long-reliable Mariano Rivera. Fortunately the Yankees had Rafael Soriano waiting in the wings.
Soriano signed with the Nationals this offseason.
A-Rod then missed time last summer, but was able to be replaced by the since-departed Eric Chavez. Now that Rodriguez is back on the shelf, the team was able to get a one-year stop-gap by signing Kevin Youkilis, though even Youkilis’ health has cost him more than 80 combined games the past two seasons.
“Grandy is not a bat that you easily replace, but we’re going to have to find a way.”—Joe Girardi.
Even captain Derek Jeter is recovering from a broken ankle and whether he can return to full health—not great odds for a 38-year-old shortstop—certainly remains to be seen. Even a healthy shortstop would have trouble at that age.
While in the past the Yankees have relied on starting pitching, this season will see them count on big performances from top starter C.C. Sabathia, who is coming off of offseason surgery, as well as 40-year-old Andy Pettitte and 37-year-old Hiroki Kuroda. In other words, the Yankees have little room for error and with Granderson’s injury that margin just got thinner.
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